The Value of Timing

September 18, 2015 Kathy Watts permalink

PeopleImages.com-ID425259They say timing is everything. Knowing when to connect with your clients is as important as how you connect with them. The timing of your marketing campaigns is one of the most important components of your strategic marketing plan.

But how do you effectively reach out and connect with your customer base at the right time to generate a sale? Here are some key things to consider when creating your marketing campaigns.

Plan Ahead

As business owners, we all know our annual financial trends. We can forecast the times in a year when we’ll have the greatest sales and the times when things will be a bit slow. So take some time to map out what your year typically looks like, and then plan your customer communications to capitalize on these trends. For instance, if you know that the bulk of your sales will occur before big holidays (such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Christmas), then plan your marketing accordingly. Make sure you’re laying the groundwork with your clients well before those holidays with email communications to help them “get ready” for the holidays. Plant the seed that you are the perfect gift solution for them and then carry that regular communication on through to the holiday.

On the other hand, if you know that a slower time of the year is approaching, now might be a good time to create some packages or specials. Capitalize on current events or occasions that are happening in your clients’ lives. By planning ahead you’ll be able to maintain a relationship, and the associated revenue, even during the slower times of the year.

Meet Customer Needs

Your customers have changing needs throughout the year. Make sure you are anticipating them and offering solutions. It could be something as simple as knowing they sent a birthday gift certificate to someone at this time last year and sending them a reminder that the date is coming up again. It could be a follow up email offer sent at a set time following a treatment or service they booked. Showing your customers that you understand and anticipate their needs (before they even think about them) can lead to a stronger relationship.

Be consistent with trends

In this business, trends are important. Whether it’s the latest hair and makeup trends or a new skin or body treatment, a lot of our business is driven by new offerings in the market. So make sure your offerings and communications stay consistent with trends. It could be something as simple as a blog post or email newsletter explaining a new treatment and why it is beneficial, or offering mini-treatments that change quarterly and are an opportunity for you and your customers to try out new treatments and trends. By its very definition, a trend is something current or currently in style. Building flexibility into your marketing strategy to act on emerging trends will allow you to capitalize on these opportunities.

Paying more attention to timing in your marketing strategy can be a game changer. It allows you to drive business in your market. It makes your customers feel like you understand them and their needs. It’s another important piece in establishing and building a strong relationship with your clients and your community.

Focus On Your Customers

June 10, 2015 Kathy Watts permalink

Instilling calmYour customers are the most important part of your business. Without them, you wouldn’t be there. Understanding what they want is key to creating and growing a healthy business. And happy repeat customers spend on average 30% more than new clients and are more likely to refer new business to you. So make sure that a key part of your business plan and day to day operations is focused on building relationships with your existing customers. Here are some key areas to consider when focusing on your customers.

Communication is Key

Your customers are interacting with you and your business every day, both in person and online. Make sure you spend some time getting to know them and that every interaction with your business is a positive one. Communicate with them when and where they want, whether it’s a quick tweet or a more detailed newsletter. Consider segmenting your email list in order to customize the communications they receive. Ask them how you’re doing and what they would like to see in the future. And then, act on their feedback.

Be responsive

We want to feel like someone is listening and that our opinions and ideas have value. So take the time to listen to your customers and to be responsive when they reach out to you with a question or problem. Sometimes the perfect solution to a problem or challenge you are having in your business will come from one of your regular customers. If a customer reaches out to you make sure you respond to them in a timely manner. And if a customer has a complaint, make sure you handle it quickly and efficiently. An upset customer who has been turned into a satisfied one is one of your greatest assets.

Reward them for their loyalty

Loyal and happy customers are your greatest resource for generating revenue and also for referring new business to you. So implement a plan to reward them for their loyalty. Whether it is a rewards program that provides incentives for their continued business or a referral program that rewards them for sending friends and family your way, having some sort of loyalty system in place will make your customers feel valued.
Your customers are key to the health and growth of your business. So make sure that a focus on them is one of the foundations of your business. Make them feel like part of the family with every interaction and they’ll remain loyal customers for years to come.

3 Keys to Build a Strong Online Community

May 19, 2015 Kathy Watts permalink

Last time, we talked about mistakes you might be making in your online communities. Today, the discussion continues with tips on building a stronger online community.

Data Research BackgroundMost of us are good at building a community. We have groups of family and friends who we interact with on a regular basis, spend time with, and gather together for celebrations and other events. We have strong relationships within our real life communities and they create a space for us to live and grow authentic lives. A strong online community can create the same thing for your brand and your business.

But how do you build a strong community online? We all know that establishing and building relationships with our clients is the best way to strengthen and grow our business. We just don’t always know the best way to go about it.

Here are three keys to building a healthy online community.

Be Consistent

People thrive on consistency. If they’re going to follow you on social media, or read your blog, then give them something to follow and something to read. Post regularly rather than sporadically. Posting consistently creates anticipation and allows your followers to make you part of their regular routine. So create a posting schedule and then stick to it.

Provide Valuable Content

You’ve gotten people to follow you online. That’s the easy part. The hard part is keeping them interested and engaged. Providing good content that is valuable to them is the key to keeping them interested. You also want to make sure the content is relevant to your brand, whether it is an “Ask the Expert” series or sharing content that is interesting for your readers and has a tie-in to your field. Also, keep in mind that valuable content does not include sales pitches or ads for promotions. You are asking your followers to make you part of their routine. Making sure you provide content that is valuable and relevant is key to getting and keeping your online community happy.

Listen to Your Community

Not sure what to post or whether your posts are effective? Listen to your community. Ask them what they’d like to see or where they want the conversation to go. Take a look at engagement rates and things like click thru rates, shares, likes, and comments. They’ll tell you what is working and what is not working. By listening to your community and allowing them to drive discussions online, you’ll have a much better idea of what new services you need to consider offering, or what direction you should be taking your business offline.

The important thing in building a community is the interaction between you and your followers. Interaction is key, because otherwise you just have an audience whom you are speaking to rather than a community you are communicating with. By taking the time and effort to focus on building those relationships online, you’ll start to see positive results in business growth overall.

4 Mistakes You’re Making With Your Social Media Community

May 12, 2015 Kathy Watts permalink

47351-You’ve done what you’re supposed to do. You have accounts on Facebook and Twitter. But having a social media presence is not the same as building a healthy social media community. Here are some mistakes you’re probably making, and how to turn them around.

Assuming that just having an account is enough

You’ve set up a Facebook page and you have a Twitter feed. There are links to them on your website. But that’s not enough. You need to post regularly, engage your followers, and make it a valuable experience. Nobody is going to want to follow you if you never post anything or, even worse, only post sales and promotions. Building an online community requires time and effort, and people who understand how to create interaction and foster the right kinds of conversations. Everyone has a Facebook page these days. You need to create a more valuable experience for your followers.

Valuing follower numbers over engagement numbers

Many of us assume that large, or growing, follower numbers are an indication of positive growth. But it doesn’t really matter how many followers you have if none of them are interacting. Engagement numbers are a much more powerful indicator of how successful your social media strategy is. Instead of paying attention to how many followers you’ve gained this week, dig a bit deeper and determine how many engagements (click thru rates, likes, shares, or comments) you’re receiving. That is a much truer indicator of how successful and effective your social media community is.

Not engaging with your followers

You are building an online community, and that means that you need to create and foster conversations on your social media feeds. So post regularly. Provide valuable information. Create conversations. And then continue to participate in them. If a follower posts a comment or engages with one of your posts, respond to them. A community means that everyone participates in an ongoing conversation. So don’t just post and run. Nobody wants to feel deserted or like their opinion is not valued.

Treating your social media as a sales channel

Your online community should be just that – a community. Nobody wants to follow a page that is just one long string of ads and promotions. Can you post information about sales or promotions? Of course! But it should not be the primary focus of your social media content. Focus on fostering community and providing valuable information and you’ll see your sales improve all on their own.

Studies show that one of the top things consumers are doing on their mobile devices is engaging in social media. It’s one of the most powerful tools in your marketing arsenal. Make sure you’re doing it right and you’ll see it pay off in increased sales and business growth.

Next time, we’ll continue the discussion with tips on building an even stronger online community.

Creating Customers For Life

April 28, 2015 Kathy Watts permalink

Embracing calmnessWe all work very hard to bring customers in the doors. But did you know that bringing in new customers costs 5-10% more than retaining the customers you already have? It is definitely worth your time and effort to keep your existing customers happy.

By building on the relationship you have already established with them, you can turn these customers into lifelong customers who will continue to come back to you again and again over the years.

Here are three key things to do when creating customers for life.

Provide stellar customer service

From consistency and quality in the services & products you provide to the attention and service your staff provides to them, every single contact your customers have with your company should be a positive one. So make customer service a top priority with your staff and follow through to make sure that your clients are happy with what they are receiving.

Show your appreciation

Show your customers how much their loyalty means to you and your business. You can do this in lots of different ways, but the two most effective are a simple thank you message (not one tied into a promotion) and a well designed loyalty program that rewards them for doing business with you. Need ideas on setting up a loyalty program? Check out our blog post from last year: Ready to Setup a Rewards Program

Give your customers what they want

Whenever you aren’t sure whether what you’re doing is working or if you should change or do something differently, the best people to ask are your customers.  So go out and get feedback from them. Ask them what they want. Find out from them what you could be doing better or what they think you should change. Really listen to them. Then follow their advice. Make the necessary changes to match their needs and they’ll continue to bring you their business. Never underestimate the value of making someone feel valued.

Creating customers for life is one of the more powerful business strategies you can utilize. Loyal customers positively impact your bottom line in many different ways. They visit you more regularly and spend more money per visit than new customers. And they recommend you to their friends and family, helping you grow your business even more. In every way, loyal customers are more valuable to gain and to keep.

Ways to Make Your Business More Efficient

January 28, 2015 Kathy Watts permalink

Business office networking and communicationRunning a small business in this economy can be challenging. You need to run your business as efficiently as possible in order to remain competitive in the marketplace. Here are a few things you can do to make your business run even more efficiently.

Don’t expand too quickly.

Your business is successful because you’ve got the proper workflow, staffing, and systems in place. But if you expand too quickly, you may not give yourself enough time to evaluate these workflows and determine if they will work on a larger scale. But expanding slowly, you give yourself the time to ensure that all the workflows, systems, and technology is scalable.

Streamline your workflows

By testing and regularly tweaking your workflows to be more efficient, you will save you and your staff time and money in the long run. Workflows should never be implemented until they are tested and all of your staff should understand how they work and why they exist. Your staff is also your greatest resource for testing and improving workflows. Listen to their feedback.

Cross train your staff

Training can increase your employees knowledge and comfort level in their own job. But cross training your employees so they can perform other tasks or cover other positions in the company can make your business even more efficient. It also increases employee satisfaction and retention. An employee who feels you are invested in their professional growth is less likely to leave the company. Employees who feel valued and have the knowledge and resources to do multiple jobs means you can focus more resources on growing your business and less on training new hires.

Be communicative with your staff

Maintain open lines of communication with your staff. Don’t make them wonder what the thinking is behind workflows or company decisions and don’t let them hear it second hand. Involve them in discussions about the company vision and listen to them when they have thoughts or ideas on improving the business. A company will run much more efficiently if everyone is always on the same page.

In the long run, making your business more efficient will save you time and money. Take some time to look at your business plan and evaluate where you can implement these changes to streamline how your business runs.

Spa Trends for 2015

December 12, 2014 Kathy Watts permalink

spa2015 will be here before we know it. As we look forward to the new year, here are some of the hottest trends in spa for 2015.

Wellness and Preventive Treatments
Consumers will continue to focus on wellness and treatments that help them support good health and well being in the coming years, whether it is treatments designed to protect your skin and hair from environmental damage, or wellness massage packages. The key interest is going to be on treatments that support health and prevent problems rather than just addressing issues once they become problematic.

Customizable Treatments
Consumers love the idea of couture treatments. And we will continue to see growth in treatments and services that have a customizable aspect to them. Whether it is picking the essential oils to be used in a massage, or choosing the focus of a facial, everyone loves to feel like the treatment they are receiving is as unique and special as they are.

DIY Treatments
Consumers are always looking for ways to extend their treatments and have them last longer. At the same time, they are also looking for ways to make a spa lifestyle more affordable. DIY treatments that they can do themselves at home are a rapidly growing segment of the spa and salon industry. Whether it is customized hair color that they can take home to touch up their roots or a special facial mask that will help them extend the benefits of their facial, there are many different opportunities for creating DIY treatments.

Green treatments
People are paying more attention to living a green, environmentally friendly lifestyle and this translates over into their spa treatments as well. As we continue into 2015, you will see a rising demand for green treatments and products made with organic ingredients by companies who are ecologically responsible. Consumers will also be paying more attention to whether your business has implemented environmentally friendly practices such as water conservation, use of organic ingredients, and proper disposal of chemicals.

De-stressing treatments
This is such a fast paced world we live in and it seems we’re all suffering from stress. Consumers are constantly on the lookout for ways to de-stress and recharge. Whether it is through massage or a specific skincare treatment designed to de-stress and detox the skin, treatments involving a de-stressing element or catering to consumer’s need to recharge will continue to be popular in 2015.

Hydrotherapy
Hydrotherapy has always been a popular aspect of spa, primarily as an add-on to other spa treatments. But as people start to recognize the many benefits of hydrotherapy, we’ll see a lot more demand for hydrotherapy and wet body treatments in the coming year.

Mini Treatments
Time is a hot commodity in today’s world. Nobody seems to have enough of it. Mini treatments can mean the difference between getting in some spa time or having to give it up due to lack of scheduling and budget concerns. It can be a great way to fill in small spaces in your calendar, feature new treatments that consumers aren’t ready to commit more time to, or provide the opportunity for clients to fit more spa time into their busy schedules. Having mini-treatments as an option on your spa menu can mean big bucks in 2015.

Treatments for Men
Men are a huge demographic who are becoming more aware of the value of taking better care of themselves. In 2015, we will see even more men looking for treatments geared towards them and their specific needs. From high-end barber services to facials and massage, the demand for treatments designed for men will continue to grow.

Group Experiences
Spa and salon has typically been focused on individual treatments. But a growing trend is toward encompassing a more social group aspect into the spa world. From mini classes on health and wellness topics to more group treatments (such as massage or manicures), the opportunity to come together as a group for learning and pampering will be one more and more consumers continue to seek out.

Spa for the Whole Family
Everyone is always looking for more ways to spend time with their families. The spa world is not well known for incorporating family into treatment time, but creating a place for families on your spa menu could be a game changer.  It could be something as simple as providing childcare services while parents enjoy some spa time or offering spa treatments for teens and kids. Regardless, busy parents are always grateful for a way to spend time with their families and pamper themselves at the same time.

Take some time and think about how you can incorporate one or more of these into your spa menu for the new year. Capitalizing on these trends can help improve your revenue in the new year, especially if you come up with unique offerings for your area that address some of these wants.

The Benefits of Mindfulness

December 3, 2014 Kathy Watts permalink

Fall in love with your hairMindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment. It’s a technique that can allow us to live in the moment and experience what is happening to us rather than reacting to it. Based on teachings in Eastern Philosophy, it is most commonly practiced as part of meditation or the practice of yoga.

In our industry, we are all familiar with the benefits one can gain from practicing mindfulness through yoga or meditation. It can bring a sense of calm and purpose and teach us to live in the now, rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Mindfulness is a popular buzzword at the moment and there is lots of talk about how incorporating mindfulness into your business is a good thing. Some of the biggest and most innovative companies, such as Google & Facebook, are incorporating mindfulness training and practices into their businesses.

Let’s talk about some of the benefits of embracing mindfulness in your business.

Mindfulness can help you be less reactive
By learning to be present in the moment in a non-judgmental manner, mindfulness can make you much less reactive and judgmental, which means that you are better able to objectively evaluate the benefit or risk of projects and decisions related to your business. Learning to be present in the moment and responding (rather than reacting) to experiences can help you eliminate much of the risk involved in making decisions. It allows you to be more proactive and make decisions based on what is the best choice for your business at that time rather than making decisions based on emotion.

Mindfulness can help you (& your employees) better handle stress
The techniques one learns when practicing mindfulness: living in the moment, responding rather than reacting, and being present and open to facing consequences openly, are the same techniques that can help you better handle stress. Teaching your employees to practice mindfulness, and practicing it yourself in your business, can create an environment where stress just melts away. And that is a great atmosphere for happy and engaged employees.

Mindfulness can bring about innovation
When you open up your views to focus on and live in the present, you are much more open to new ideas and new ways of doing things. This can open up your business to all sorts of new ideas about standard operating procedures and new, potentially better ways to do things. It could be the path that allows you to streamline your business procedures by doing fewer things, but doing those fewer things better. Mindfulness opens up your mind and your business to innovation.

Practicing mindfulness in our business can help us be more proactive and better able to handle the ups and downs of everyday business life. It can be a unique and powerful tool for helping to strengthen your business.

Managing Online Reviews Effectively

November 25, 2014 Kathy Watts permalink

ChecklistOnline Reviews are important. Studies show that a majority of today’s consumers look at online reviews and use them as a tool when deciding what company or service to use. Negative reviews are especially scrutinized and can have more of an influence on whether or not a consumer chooses you. The good reviews showcase how great your business, staff, and services are. But the bad ones can also be really useful, especially if you handle them appropriately and effectively. I know when I am shopping around for a new business, I usually look at both good and bad reviews. And I usually find that looking at the bad reviews, and how the business responds to those (or if they even respond at all), can be the most telling about your business practices and customer service. A business that is responsive to their online reviews (both good and bad) and who appropriately handles the negative ones is a business that will win my patronage.

Here are a few tips for managing your reviews effectively:

Make it Easy for Your Clients to Post and Read Reviews
Make the reviews section or button on your website easy to find. And make sure you promote online reviews when your clients visit you as well, by providing them with the link to your reviews page and asking them to please review their visit.

Listen to Your Clients
Pay attention to what your clients say in reviews, and then take that information and use it to improve your business. Your clients are your best source of information on how you are doing as a company. So really listen to what they have to say, both good and bad. Then take that information and use it to shape your customer service and business practices going forward. Clients who really feel like their opinion matters will be loyal clients for years to come.

Be Responsive
Designate a person to manage reviews and make sure you are responsive in a timely fashion and appropriate in your responses. Be professional and polite even if the unhappy client is not. It is also a good idea to take the conversation with a negative reviewer private initially. Email or contact them privately to address the situation and then post a response online once you have resolved the situation. We’ve all seen those negative reviews that turn into a back and forth volley of snarkiness and unprofessional behavior on both sides. Nobody wants that as an online review or as the end result of a complaint. No client is more loyal than an unhappy one that you have turned around.

By effectively managing your reviews online, you will help grow your reputation and also provide potential customers with valuable information about your business and the quality of the services you provide. By ensuring that you have a good online reputation as a business, you are ensuring that your business will continue to grow.

Who is Your Holiday Marketing Audience, Anyway?

November 13, 2014 Stephany Toman permalink

Blossoming beauty treatmentsJust who are you targeting when you amp up your holiday marketing efforts? Friends. Loved ones. Teachers. Co-workers. Caregivers. Mechanics. Postal workers. Butchers. Bakers. And, last but certainly not least, men. (Who may or may not fall into any of the categories already listed!)

You get my point. Potential giftees span the spectrum. What does this mean to you? Keep that in mind when you craft your holiday packages. How?

Several ways come to mind.  One involves price points. Offering several price points for packages means gift givers will have the right choice for the recipient. We’ve discussed, many times, how having three great packages at different price points means you’ll most likely sell a majority in the middle, and, occasionally, for ‘special’ occasions, you’ll sell at the top end, too. For this holiday purpose, and given the wide number of potential recipients, a variety of options means you’ll be filling a need for gifts small and more generous.

Another tactic would be creating packages for a target group, say teachers, for example. Having cleverly named packages that are variations on your core service offerings (and which require no extra special products or preparation to speak of), that play on the school/teacher idea will make gift recipients feel special and appreciated.

Creating gift certificates around the potential recipient groups makes sense, too, and requires no additional services setup. Creating gift certificates for any number of specific themes/recipients is a simple task for a graphics person, and will add to your inventory of choices during prime gift giving times.

And let’s not forget the men.

Recent stats have shown that men comprise almost 1/3 of spa goers these days. 1/3. That’s a pretty significant number. And that percentage isn’t all seeking men-only establishments, though those have certainly created a lucrative niche for themselves in recent years and have grown at astonishing rates because of their focus on creating intensely male-centric environments for their clientele.

But your focus doesn’t need to be that narrow to capture some of the male audience. What you need is to market to both them and the ones who spend time with/gift them. Things that men prefer tend to the simple – a service menu with ten facials may well confuse, certainly the novice spa-goer, but one with 2 or 3 services designed specifically with the male client in mind will appeal.  And when it comes to naming male-focused services? Descriptive and traditionally masculine seems to do the job.

As you prepare for what is predicted to be a strong holiday season from a retail standpoint, be sure to consider your audience – all of it – and spend the time to create a few special offers or to tailor your gift certificates to reach the special giftees. The effort will be worth it.